Chronicles of Elyria’s latest dev blog is out, and it’s more than just a recap of 2017 and look ahead to 2018, although it has that too: It makes the announcement that the game will no longer be utilizing SpatialOS.
“In January of 2017 we began the long process of taking what was mostly an offline, single-player game – designed primarily to validate user experience and gameplay feel – and turn it into a MEOW [Multiplayer Evolving Online World],” says Soulbound Studios. That meant integration with SpatialOS and Unreal Engine 4. But as development progressed, Soulbound explains, it ran into game elements (non spatial systems) that didn’t quite fit the architecture. What’s more, Soulbound argues, the studio was concerned that the game’s large size would make SpatialOS too expensive for it (and therefore for players) long-term.
“Of course, we brought our concerns to Improbable, and over the last eight months they’ve done a fantastic job working with us to try and bring the price down. Unfortunately, it remains an expensive solution for us. To make sure we were prepared, we began looking for alternative technology that could fill any gaps left behind if we were unable to use SpatialOS for any reason.”
Welcome back to our intermittent series on MMOs and other multiplayer games you you’ve never heard of! Let’s run down five more floating to the top of the pile this month.
First up is a Russian indie MMO called Rogalia that I first heard of thanks to former Massively columnist Jeremy Stratton (heya Jeremy!). It’s cute and cartoony and will definitely appeal to old-school isometric sandbox players with its crisp cartoon graphics and detailed UI. Combine all that with the gameplay and it’ll remind you more of Ultima Online than most games that namedrop it! It’s currently $12 on Steam, though it’s set to launch out of early access at some point this month, when the price will likely increase.
Bossa Studios revealed today that Worlds Adrift’s 0.1.6 patch – and its associated world wipe – won’t make it into tester hands by Christmas. The 0.1.5 update, however, will.
“It comes with several substantial under-the-hood upgrades, and some key tools that should help us track down the causes to the infamous client freeze,” says the studio. “This update marks a crucial point in Worlds Adrift’s development, as it further provides a more solid foundation for which to build the game on.”
Specifically, testers should take note that the SpatialOS SDK and Unity engine underpinning the game have received major upgrades, there are a bunch of little bug fixes, lore is flooding into the game, and cheating should be way harder thanks to new anti-cheat implementation.
Its team might be miniscule, its alpha more than a year away, and its funding still unsecured, but Fractured is powering ahead as best it can to lay down the foundations for this sandbox MMO.
Fractured’s first state of the game was posted on Monday to bring fans up to speed on what’s been done since the title was announced earlier this year. While some systems (including many sandbox elements) have yet to be initiated in development, the two-person crew has already pulled together a core of this MMO, including movement, action combat, backend infrastructure, an authentication system, pathfinding, and a prototype of the Knowledge system. The devs attribute their quick progression on the project of the use of Improbable’s SpatialOS platform.
The team said that over 5,000 fans have registered accounts so far from 100 different countries. “We’re glad of how far we’ve gone in barely over three months with such a small team of coders, and we’re excited to think of how fast we’ll become once the project receives proper funding and our devs at least double in number,” the devs said. “Looking at our development speed so far, the fact there’s still one year left to the planned start of Alpha 1, and the fact a Kickstarter and subsequent team expansion are going to happen in between, we’re confident we’ll deliver all that’s been promised.”
While it will be a while before fans can try out the game for themselves, the dev team did promise to release some actual screenshots and in-game footage to give people an idea of what Fractured looks like.
Welcome back to our intermittent series on MMOs and other multiplayer games you you’ve never heard of! Let’s run down three of them.
First up is Immortal Thrones, a mobile MMO import from Chinese studio Zloong, which is calling the game a 3-D MMO set in a “richly detailed medieval fantasy world.” It’s just launched on both iOS and Android in North America and Europe. Expect four classes, multiple PvP options, and “a merged live-streaming and Location-based Service (LBS) system [that] enables players to find other competitors and engage with them in real time,” which the PR says “makes the game more interactive than the standard MMORPG.”
Since this past summer, we’ve had our eye on Fractured, yet another SpatialOS MMO on the way to hard drives everywhere. If it’s not on your radar yet, it probably ought to be be, as it’s touting planetary colonization, crafting, housing, skill- and reflex-based combat, and most interestingly, no grind and no forced PvP.
The team’s most recent dev vlog covers character progression, specifically a “knowledge system” that is “different from both level-based and skill-based systems.” In fact, Dynamight Studios is saying it “can be defined as the first accomplished example of horizontal progression in an MMO,” which I’m sure will quirk the eyebrows of all the other games with horizontal progression, yeah?
In any case, this does sound pretty cool. The goals, Dynamight says, are to keep newbies competitive from the start with “minimal power gaps,” while providing “long-term objectives for character development,” avoiding grind, and creating opportunities to change builds during play. If anything, it reminds me of systems used in the Fallout series: Exploring the worlds, encountering new critters, identifying items, and discovering relics all help you earn knowledge points, which you can then spend on a talent tree, which looks more like something you’d see in a sandbox than in a typical themepark or OARPG with class trees.
Well now PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will have another battle royale game to fight. UK-based Automaton Games announced that it is working on a new tactical shooter MMO that will, yes, include a last-player-standing battle royale mode. Got to cash in on the craze, after all!
Despite its indie credentials, Automaton is going all-out with this title. The studio received a $10 million infusion from an investment firm and is using that to fund the development of the so-far unnamed title. From what we know, the new game is going to throw as many as 1,000 players onto a “shared world” that’s 12 kilometers square. The game has some muscle under its hood, being made with SpatialOS and the CryEngine.
According to the website: “We’ve recently announced a few details of our upcoming tactical shooter: an MMO of unprecedented scale, supporting 1,000 concurrent players in an ultra-high fidelity world instance. It is set in a huge, photoreal, and highly dynamic environment, with strong character progression, social hubs, intelligent mission systems, and global-scale player-driven narrative.”
The bad news for fans eagerly looking on with Seed’s development is that the game isn’t going to be opening up for external testing until 2018, so you shouldn’t be expecting it any time soon. Heck, the most likely date is around summer 2018. The good news, though, is that once it does arrive players will have a new world to explore that’s driven far more by AI than anything else, according to the most recent development outline on the official site.
While the game had an initial prototype already build, the development team has gone back to basics and is building from the beginning, with the current focus on actionable objects to help guide AI entities through the game world. From there, it’s time to work on feelings and relationships to let things develop organically over time. Read through the whole document if you’re curious; it won’t make the wait any shorter, but it will possibly get you interested in waiting.
Worlds Adrift developer Bossa Studios just got a massive influx of cash – 10 million bucks – thanks to a Series A investment round backed by multiple UK investment firms. Representatives of the largest investor, Atomica, will join Bossa’s board.
“This new round of funding will be used to cement the future success of the studio, supporting its recruitment of top talent that will help define Bossa’s strategic focus on AI, User Generated Content and Open Development, as the studio also prepares to launch Worlds Adrift to the public, the first ever game to be built on Improbable’s SpatialOS platform.”
Bossa isn’t known for just its MMO development on Worlds Adrift, of course; you probably also know it from Surgeon Simulator and I Am Bread. Closed beta is ongoing; signups are still live on the official site, or you can pick up one of the new founder packs that just went live last week.
Earlier this summer, we first wrote about Fractured, yet another SpatialOS MMO currently under construction since this past January. If it’s not on your radar yet, maybe it should be, as it’s touting planetary colonization, crafting, housing, skill- and reflex-based combat, and most interestingly, no grind and no forced PvP.
This week, Dynamight Studios whipped up a new feature spotlight covering the universe from a lore standpoint, including eclipses, which might have been a really cool thing to reveal last week, yeah? I’m teasing about the astronomy degree, of course. The gist is that there’s a single solar system with a planet, Elysium, that split into three others, each with its own “gaming experiences,” biomes, and diurnal cycles for players, including events and seasonal cycle mechanics depending on where the planets are in their orbits at any given time.
Last month, we introduced our readers to Fractured, yet another SpatialOS MMO currently under construction since this past January. Its chief claims to fame include planetary colonization, crafting, housing, skill- and reflex-based combat — and most interestingly to players bored of stock MMO tropes — no grind and no forced PvP.
This week, the team behind the game, Dynamight Studios, has released what it’s calling a feature spotlight on one of its “design pillars” — character races — arguing that the “potential of the concept has never been exploited in full” by the genre.
Dynamight CEO Jacopo Gallelli contends that “races have been used to add variety to combat, questlines and, at best, environments” in MMOs, but that “no one has ever strived to employ them to immerse players in a different culture and society, and to make them feel that they are playing a whole different game if their character is a Demon instead of a Human.”
Getting confused over Fractured and Fragmented? Me too! Let’s add another into the mix: The Foundation! Actually, no, let’s back up. Fractured is a relatively new SpatialOS MMORPG sandbox, with planetary colonization, crafting, housing, skill- and reflex-based combat, and — critically — no grind and no forced PvP. While it’s been in production since January, it didn’t leak out to us until a month ago.
The Foundation is a new program Fractured’s developers at Italy’s Dynamight Studios have integrated into the game’s forums (so all you need to do to participate is create an account there). On the surface, it’s a “community engagement program,” which sounds either awful or mundane, but MMO vets who look more closely will find that it more resembles the incentivized fluff from direct crowdfunding — only you’re not paying for it. It’s meant to reward players for doing things like posting feedback and ideas, chatting with fellow fans, and sharing game updates, and it amounts to a minigame before the game is even out. Says the studio,
Recently we had an interesting question come in from reader and Patron Rasmus Praestholm, who asked me to do a little investigating: “What (if anything of substance) exists in the MMO field that’s not only free, but open source? The topic of open source came up briefly in a recent column, where Ryzom was noted to have gone open source at some point. But have any serious efforts actually gotten anywhere starting out as open source?”
As some graphical MMORPGs pass the two-decade mark in video game history and are being either cancelled or retired to maintenance mode, it’s an increasingly important topic when it comes to keeping these games alive. Not only that, the question of open source MMOs involves the community in continued development, with the studio handing over the keys to an aging car to see what can be done by resourceful fans.
But has anything much been done with open source projects in the realm of MMORPGs? Is this something that we should be demanding more of as online gaming starts using more accessible platforms such as SpatialOS? Let’s dig a bit into this topic and see what we turn up.